How is Taipei for western tourists
Ten reasons to visit Taiwan
As a travel destination, Taiwan is so far not very well known in the local market. That makes Vanessa, who recently drove around the island in a rental car, all the more interesting. Your ten reasons why a trip to the "Ilha Formosa" is worthwhile.
Taiwan does not appear on the top lists of the most famous travel destinations - accordingly, you hardly meet tourists from Europe on site. Even if the numbers are rising steadily according to the Asia provider Tourasia: “Over the last five years we have recorded an increase of 40 percent among our guests to Taiwan. Even if we have had the destination in our program for 27 years and have met with a good response from our customers, it will remain a niche offer for the time being, ”admits Stephan Roemer, Managing Director of Tourasia.
The increased demand is confirmed by the Taipei Tourism Office: With around 11,200 entries, Taiwan recorded 29 percent more Swiss guests in 2018 than five years ago.
Taiwan enjoys an almost impeccable reputation among tourism professionals and travel journalists: “Good infrastructure, good accommodation, good safety standards, delicious food,” says Christoph Ammann, Head of Travel at the “Sonntagszeitung”, summarizing the advantages of the destination.
The long-time travel expert also rates the pleasant political climate as very important: "In contrast to China, Taiwan is not a dictatorship, but a very progressive democracy with free expression of opinion."
Out and about with a rental car
When I thought about driving through an Asian metropolis in a rental car, I hesitated at first. In vain, as it quickly turned out: You can find your way around Taiwan without any language skills. The road signs are often also given in English, which makes orientation easier.
And our navigation system found every destination without any problems except for a few dropouts. In addition, the Taiwanese drive very decently. Only in the big cities do you have to be careful at rush hour when motorcycles whiz by on the left and right.
Trekking and Biking in Taiwan
Taiwan has 200 mountains, some more than 3000 meters high, as well as extremely well-kept natural regions such as the Taroko or Yangmingshan National Park near Taipei. I was particularly fascinated by Taroko National Park: It is a deep gorge that is located in Taiwan's oldest national park.
Numerous trails lead through the national park and along the gorge. Depending on how long you stay on site and depending on your fitness level, you can choose between various paths. A special permit is required for individual trails, which can be requested online on the national park website.
Equally popular: cycling and biking. Hardly any other Asian country offers such an abundance of opportunities to experience nature on a mountain bike or to cycle along the rugged coasts on a racing bike.
There are routes that go from high up in the mountains all the way down to the coast. Various specialized tour operators offer organized tours. Taiwan also has many beautiful and well-developed routes to offer for less ambitious cyclists. Good quality bicycles can be rented in many places.
From camping to luxury hotels
Anyone who likes to spend the night on campsites can easily do so in Taiwan. Around the island, in the mountains and on the coast: the range of campsites is diverse and very popular. Here is an interesting link to it.
Taiwan's hotel industry is just as diverse. Whether in Taipei or elsewhere on the island: we have always had very good experiences. The Silks Place Taroko Hotel, which lies spectacularly on / above the gorge, remains a special memory. Or the Mandarin Oriental in Taipei, which impresses in every respect, impresses with its own art objects and also scores with an unbeatable price-performance ratio. .
Regardless of the controversial discussion as to whether Taiwan is an independent state or not: The country offers travelers some advantages over mainland China. Above all, this includes entry: No complicated visa procedure - all you need for Taiwan is a valid passport with which you can stay in the country for up to 90 days.
Arts and Culture in Taiwan
Taiwan has a vibrant arts and culture scene and a variety of venues. There are many museums and galleries across the country. An absolute highlight is certainly the National Palace Museum in Taipei, which is one of the four best museums in the world and maintains a unique heritage: exhibits from five millennia of Chinese history are on display. A must - even for anyone who is not a museum lover.
Taiwan is also setting standards in the field of modern art. The world's largest performing arts center recently opened under one roof in the southern Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung. The complex has a covered area of 141,000 square meters - as much as 20 football fields. With the gigantic new complex for opera, concerts, theater and dance, Taiwan wants to become a hub for culture.
Food stall and Michelin stars
When it comes to eating, many Asian travelers primarily think of street food and night markets. Of course, Taiwan is also teeming with it - the famous “Stinky Tofu” is a must.
The longer the more, however, Taiwan, above all Taipei, has made a name for itself in the area of fine dining. Local products of the highest quality are processed accordingly. You can get to know the whole variety of Taiwanese cuisine in the numerous high-class restaurants, but also in the food stalls on the roadside.
The local chefs not only concentrate on their own cuisine, but also celebrate the sophisticated combination of ingredients from the eastern and western world. According to the new Michelin Guide, there are currently 24 star restaurants in Taipei.
Taiwan is very suitable for those who are not yet very knowledgeable about traveling in Asia. Taipei is the ideal starting and ending point. Frequent travelers refer to the island as "China light" because it is much easier to find your way than on the mainland and the island is very manageable in comparison. The locals are extremely nice and helpful, you just get into conversation and take turns enjoying the pleasant hospitality.
The hygiene standard is also different from many other places in China - in Taiwan we have found well-kept places without exception. Even the toilets at the motorway service stations were almost clinically clean.
Taiwan is ideally suited to get in touch with Chinese culture and to be followed by a trip to the mainland later.
Fascinating landscapes in the smallest of spaces
The island in the western Pacific combines the most beautiful aspects of Asia in a small area and offers a breathtaking landscape with impressive gorges, mirror-smooth lakes, high mountains, rugged coasts and magical coral and volcanic islands.
On the southwest coast, sandy beaches, coastal lakes and sandbanks are lined up, while the east coast is dominated by rocks, steep slopes and narrow plains.
On the north coast, however, there are rocky headlands and the highlight of the south coast are the coral reefs. Not to forget: the offshore smaller islands with impressive rock formations.
General travel information
How to get there: Daily from Zurich to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. We recommend the Premium Economy Class with more legroom. Numerous connecting flights to Taipei.
Swiss tour operator: Taiwan program at the Asia specialist Tourasia, Tel. 0041 43 233 30 60
Rental car tour: Taiwan can be explored in a rental car with the help of a navigation device. There is right-hand traffic and the roads are very good. Big round trip rental car to Taiwan (5 days / 4 nights) including accommodations in medium / first class hotels at Tourasia from 790 Fr. p.p. in a double room.
Best travel time: March to June, October / November. Here is a link to the Bookmundi website, which recommends the best travel times for Taiwan and in which months you can do what weather-wise.
The trip was made by Tourasia and Cathay Pacific supported.
they botharePrimCom Switzerland customers.
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